How do you create quality time?
Comedian Groucho Marx once said, “I find television very educating.” Why?
“Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book!”
I’m LOL-ing at the remark, but also the word “set.” (Can you tell what decades Marx lived in?)
But Marx brought up an important concept. How we use our time is important. We want to choose wisely. We want Quality Time.
Today as I thought about the people in my life, I accessed just how much quality time they’re getting from me. Have you ever done that?
I discovered five areas in my own life (you may find more), and I am sharing some books that I’ve found helpful. Perhaps you’d like to share resources that help you with quality time. (I do not get any compensation for mentioning them.)
1. Quality Time with God – [Note: More accurately, God doesn't need your time, but He loves you and desires your time.] You’re either smiling or cringing right now, depending on how much time you’re spending with God and whether that time is “quality.” Some women don’t spend much time with the Lord at all. Others spend time and make moments (hours?) together times of powerful intimacy and study. Most of us are somewhere in between.
God convicted me of this last year, and I made some radical changes to spend more time with God. The enemy conspires to steal our time away from the Father, so we need to be proactive and schedule time, if necessary. The more we spend time with God, the more it will be times of delight rather than duty. Some powerful books in this area are Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s books, The Quiet Place, A Place of Quiet Rest, and a study she wrote with Tim Grissom, Seeking Him, a book designed for personal revival.
2. Quality Time with Your Husband (if you’re married) – In the busyness of life, we sometimes forget how special our marriage relationship is (or can be). I have many, MANY marriage books on my shelves, including a number by Bill and Pam Farrel (including A Couple’s Journey with God; Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti; Marriage in the Whirlwind; Red Hot Monogamy; and 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband ~ all available at love-wise.com).
In Marriage in the Whirlwind, the Farrels describe the whirlwinds that come into marriage and how to survive these stressful tornadoes. They say, “Many times it seems couples long to cry out, ‘Stop the world ~ I want to get off!’” They talk about how unexpected circumstances, the busyness of technology and life just moving too fast, emotional storms, financial struggles and other whirlwinds can destroy a marriage if a couple isn’t wise about using their relationship in positive ways. Quality time together can help to combat stresses.
Quality time in marriage includes listening, simplifying the calendar to make time for each other, setting goals together and taking time to build physical intimacy. [Besides the Farrels' books, which are meant for men and women, I also recommend Kathi Lipp's The Husband Project and Arlene Pellicane's 31 Days to a Happy Husband to women.]
3. Quality Time with Your Child (or children) if you have them (or Grandchildren) – One of the statements that always bothered me is that children need quality time, not quantity time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children need both! They need to be near their parents in order to feel loved and learn from them. But quality time is certainly important.
First there are the simple things: cooking and baking together, planting seeds, enjoying art and music, sharing the how-to’s of life, and helping them see how things work. More important ~ seeing how LIFE works with wisdom principles from scripture.
Then there are times of more focused teaching. One of my recent joys is sharing A Girl after God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George with my oldest granddaughter. A book I wish I’d had when raising my sons is Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, which is all about “Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. For busy moms who wonder how they can be more proactive in pointing quality time toward spiritual truth, I highly recommend Carrie Ward’s book, Together: Growing Appetites for God.
4. Quality Time with Friends – I tell women that no one friend (except Jesus) can be all for us. We need a variety of friends who encourage, challenge, teach, and help us. We need some friends to kick back and LOL with.
One of my biggest regrets is that I waited so long to build friendships. They don’t just happen. It’s rare that God just drops a friend into our laps. The Bible says that is we want friends, we need to show ourselves to be friendly). That takes planning. It takes time. We need to listen when we’re together and not just talk about ourselves.
This is my weak area and I’m working on it. I go on Friendship lunch dates (and need to plan some Friendship activity dates to help me get some of the lunch dates pounds off! LOL!) I’m writing a book on friendship based on some of the things God is teaching me. (Do you have some good Christian books on friendship to recommend to me and others?)
5. Quality Time with Yourself – This may seem like a strange one, but the Bible says we are to love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31), so this presupposes we are properly loving ourselves. Kathi Lipp has a helpful book titled The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You’ve Always Wanted.
When it comes to quality time with ourselves, we can be more proactive when choosing our activities ~ either (1) doing things that build/improve our lives, (2) leave us pretty much the same, or (3) tear down/hurt us in some ways. (When I speak to women, I call these Climbing, Coasting, and Collapsing choices.)
Pursue Climbing choices; they’ll always be the best. As you plan time for yourself, think of things you can do that will challenge you mentally, physically, and spiritually. Do things that energize you, encourage growth, build your confidence and please the Lord. These are things you won’t regret, things that make you feel better about your life and, at the same time, bring glory to God.
These are choices like reading a good book, listening to music that blesses, enjoying a sport you love … anything that inspires you. For stories that are inspiring and missional, I recommend any of Kathi Macias’ books.
To find more time to pursue Quality Time relationships with yourself (and everyone), check out Marcia Ramsland’s books about simplifying your time and organizing your life at organizingpro.com. Choose Climbing choices that build all of your relationships!
Reserve the Coasting choices (those you might make when you really don’t feel like making any choices!) for those days when you want to relax and unwind. These are happy choices that may make you feel good and won’t tire you out, but they really aren’t designed to move you forward, either. A massage would fall into this category, or reading a good mystery novel, or spending some time on Pinterest. These are things that are easy to do. (But beware – too many Coasting choices and you’ll begin to waste time.)
Avoid Collapsing choices (negative, destructive, or hurtful options) like the flu! Collapsing choices may seem good at the time, but they don’t build us up. This would include watching bad television, pigging out at a buffet, or anything that prevents you from being your best. Basically, it’s doing anything you’ll regret or be ashamed of later.
So … what category needs some improvement?
Where are you not spending enough Quality Time? What can you do TODAY to change that? Can you think of others who might need your Quality Time? I’d love to hear about ways that you spend Quality Time in any of these areas, as well as any resources you would recommend.